Dysons, Cambridge Analytica, Beatles, History, Space

Hic sunt camelopardus: this historical edition of The Browser is presented for archaeological purposes; links and formatting may be broken.

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The Starship Or The Canoe

Kenneth Brower | California | 1st September 2017

Virtuoso double profile of Freeman Dyson and his son George Dyson, whose lives diverged when George embraced 1960s counterculture, went to live up a tree in Canada, then sought greater solitude in a “maze of glaciated islands at the foot of Queen Charlotte Sound”. Freeman wanted to build nuclear-powered interplanetary rockets for the US Air Force; George wanted to build kayaks. When they reconciled, Freeman “tried to recruit George’s people as space colonists” (6,130 words)

I Made Steve Bannon’s Psychological Warfare Tool

Carole Cadwalladr | Guardian | 18th March 2018

Portrait of Christopher Wylie, the “gay Canadian vegan” who developed data-mining techniques used to get Donald Trump elected. “Aged 24, while studying for a PhD in fashion trend forecasting, he came up with a plan to harvest the Facebook profiles of millions of people in the US, to use their private and personal information to create sophisticated psychological and political profiles, and then target them with political ads designed to work on their particular psychological makeup” (5,700 words)

The Music Of The Beatles

Ned Rorem | New York Review Of Books | 18th January 1968

Great American composer’s marvellous contemporary appreciation of the Beatles’ music. “My approach will be that of what once was termed the long-hair composer, somewhat disillusioned, nourished at the conservatory yet exposed all his life (as is any American, of necessity) to jazz. It will not pretend to a total appraisal, only to the fact that I and my colleagues have been happily torn from a long nap by the energy of rock, principally as embodied in the Beatles” (4,090 words)

History Can Help

Linda Colley | LRB | 18th March 2018

How does one recognise a turning-point in human history? Are we living through one now? “Epic changes are very occasionally rapid, but sometimes stretch over centuries. What triggers dramatic episodes of change? Savage outbreaks of disease can do so; as can significant alterations in climate, leaps forward in technology, economic crises, and shifts in the nature of belief and ideology. But the most recurring and paradoxical trigger of change in human society has been war” (3,480 words)

In Space, The Coffee’s A Concern

Chris Jones | Esquire | 29th January 2007

Classic account of life on board the International Space Station. “Everything is always taken through a straw. Except that Pettit has learned to squeeze his coffee out of the straw in tiny, perfect spheres, which hang suspended in the weightlessness, waiting for him to bite them out of the air or, if he’s feeling playful, to pinch them between chopsticks and pop them into his mouth. He does that because he can up here, and he can’t down there. That’s all the reason he’s ever needed” (6,800 words)

Video of the day Arena

What to expect:

The inhabited Earth from the skies, abstracted to the condition of geometry (1’30”)

Thought for the day

I am too much of a skeptic to deny the possibility of anything
Thomas Henry Huxley

Podcast of the day Train Your Dragon Child | Freakonomics Radio

Stephen Dubner and guests discuss the value of Chinese folk beliefs about zodiac animals
(36m 18s)

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